Friday, 27 July 2007


SHUSHA, Azerbaijan, July 25, 2007 (AFP) - Torn between two culture sand at the heart of a conflict with no end in sight, the historic city of Shusha is often called the "Jerusalem of Karabakh."

Perched on a plateau overlooking the fertile valleys of Azerbaijan's disputed Nagorny Karabakh region, Shusha is a cradle of culture both for Christian Armenians, who now control it, and for Muslim Azerbaijanis, who have vowed to reclaim it as their own.

The site of a decisive battle in the 1988-1992 Nagorny Karabakh war, Shusha is now largely in ruins. The city is littered with gutted apartment blocks, derelict office buildings and crumbling churches and mosques.

To mark the 15th anniversary of their capture of Shusha in 1992, Karabakh's separatist authorities this year announced ambitious plans to rebuild the city and turn it into a cultural and tourism centre.

"Shushi was a beautiful city and it will be again," said Samvel Haratunian, the deputy head of the local administration, using the Armenian name for the city.

He said authorities plan to spend 10 million dollars (7.2 million euros) over several years restoring historical buildings, replacing rotting infrastructure and building new homes.

The restoration plans have sparked outrage among Azerbaijanis, who say that after forcing them out of the city, the separatists are now erasing their cultural heritage.

"Without Shusha there can be no Azerbaijan, the country simply cannot exist without this city. It was always a strategic Azerbaijani city," said Hikmat Sabiroglu, a refugee from Shusha who is now a political analyst in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku.

"We are very angry about the Armenian administration's plans for reconstruction. Trying to transform Shusha into an Armenian city is simply absurd," he said.

Azerbaijanis date the founding of Shusha to the mid-1700s, when it became the capital of the independent khanate of Karabakh, though Armenians claim to have settled the area earlier. It was a mixed city throughout much of its history.

Shusha was a centre of culture in the 19th and early 20th centuries, producing many of the most renowned musicians, scientists and writers in both Armenian and Azerbaijani history.

It was famed for its architectural beauty, in particular its 17 mosques and five churches. At its height, Shusha was the second-largest city in the South Caucasus after Tbilisi, with a population of more than 60,000.

Despite occasional disputes, the city's Armenian and Azerbaijani population managed to live together in relative peace until the collapse of the Russian Empire, which had absorbed the region in the mid-1800s.

Fighting broke out in 1920 over whether Shusha would be part of the newly declared republics of Armenia or Azerbaijan. Thousands died and the Armenian population fled the city.

Following the Soviet takeover of the region, control over Karabakh was given to Azerbaijan. While the majority of Karabakh's population was ethnic Armenian, Shusha remained a mostly ethnic Azerbaijani enclave.

When full-scale fighting broke out in Karabakh following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, more than 95 percent of Shusha's 17,000 people were ethnic Azerbaijani.

A walled fortress overlooking the regional capital Stepanakert, Shusha was a strategic stronghold for Azerbaijani forces. For months in the winter of 1992, rockets rained down on Stepanakert from Shusha, killing thousands.

On May 8 separatist forces, who were backed throughout the conflict by newly independent Armenia, stormed the citadel in the most famous encounter of the war, taking the city in street-to-street combat.

Mass demonstrations broke out in Baku over the loss of Shusha, forcing the government to resign. Attempts to retake the city failed and when a ceasefire was signed in 1994 the city remained in separatist hands.

Today, like Jerusalem in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Shusha is at the heart of negotiations on a peace settlement, with both sides claiming the city as their own.

Unlike Jerusalem, Shusha is entirely under the control of one side in the conflict. Officials here insist their restoration plans will respect Shusha's Muslim history, pointing to major restoration work at an historic mosque.

But many in the city do not accept the return of its Muslim population.

"No Muslims live here now, of course. The mosques are simply historical monuments," said Father Andreas of Shusha's Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, which has been fully restored after suffering heavy damage during the war.

Slightly more than 3,000 people live here now, many of them refugees who fled Azerbaijan during the war. For them, Armenians and Azerbaijanis living side-by-side again in Shusha is simply unthinkable.

"How can you live together with evil dogs?" said Valo Baghdasarian, a fruit and vegetable seller in the town centre. "You can't give away land that was paid for with blood."


This is the keynote speech by Gregory Topalian in this week's House of Commons conference organised by Armenia Solidarity, the British Armenian All Party Parliamentary Group, Nor Serount Publications and the Armenian Genocide Trust.

It was held on the anniversary of the Lausanne Treaty that was such a catastrophe for the Armenians. It details the dubious dealings of the British government then, and explains possible reasons for its present policy towards the Armenian Genocide. All who reside in the UK should be aware of this background, and why the struggle for recognition by the UK is so important. We hope that you will support this work such as contacting your MP when requested.


British responsibility for the fate of Western Armenia

The Treaty of Lausanne 24th July 1923 “an abject, cowardly, and infamous surrender”.

Today is the 84th anniversary of the final nail in the coffin of any lingering hopes that the Armenians had of gaining justice for the human and territorial losses that resulted from the Armenian Genocide.

The Houses in which we currently sit had a huge role to play in the failure to honour promises made to the Armenians between 1915 and 1923, that they would gain compensation, territory and justice for the wrongs done to them during those years by the Ottoman State.

It is therefore an appropriate date to look back at the chronology of how their Western Allies in the Treaty of Lausanne, a Treaty that David Lloyd George described as “an abject, cowardly, and infamous surrender”, eventually failed the Armenians. The Treaty of Lausanne was the final outcome of the manoeuvrings of governments through the treaties of Versailles and Sevres. Ethical considerations were far from the minds of those involved with the Treaty of Lausanne, with Western governments seeking to make gains from the long drawn out process of deciding the shape of the world following World War One. David Lloyd George’s retrospective view of Britain’s role in the Armenian Genocide was expressed in 1932 in “The Truth about Peace Treaties”, he commented;

“ It was the actions of the British government that led to the massacres of 1894-96, 1909 and worst of all, the Holocaust of 1915”. Yet the British Government has failed, and still is failing in addressing their role in these wrongs."

Initial proclamations

One month into the Armenian Genocide, the Allies made their first proclamation, and the first of many promises that they would fail to keep, on the punishment that the Ottoman Empire would face if they were to continue with their abhorrent crimes. On 24th May 1915 they warned;

“In view of these new crimes of Turkey against humanity and civilisation, the allied governments announce publicly…. That they will hold personally responsible…all members of the Ottoman Government and those of their agents who are implicated in such matters”.

This declaration in itself is testament to the fact that what was occurring in Western Armenia was a new kind of crime, a crime that would later be termed ‘genocide’ by Raphael Lemkin. Indeed, Lemkin considered the events in Anatolia as well as those unfolding in Nazi Germany, as the blueprint for the creation of his new term in 1943.

As early as May 1915 then, there was also recognition that this was a State-sponsored massacre. The United Nations War Crimes Commission Report made specific reference to the allied directive as an example of one of the categories of crimes against humanity, and as a precedent for Articles 6© and 5© of the Nuremberg and Tokyo Charters respectively.

However, there is also a view that it was in Britain’s interests to bring the atrocities of 1915 to the public mind in order to suggest that this was not a war for imperialistic gain, but that there was a moral imperative also. By the end of the war, there was no need to carry on with this subterfuge, and so Britain’s interest in Armenia waned to some degree. The search for a moral imperative for war has been echoed recently in the efforts of the current British Government, as exposed in David Manning and Jack Straw’s memos to Tony Blair, to convince the public that there was a moral imperative for the assault on Iraq. The difference of course being, that with the Armenian Genocide there was a moral imperative.

After Turkey had signed the Armistice on October 30th 1918, the Allies gave the impression that they might make their warning of May 1915 more than simple bluster.

Initially, the attempt was made to apply the principles of international law against the perpetrators. Nicholas Politis desired a new category of war crimes to cover the massacres against the Armenians. The Commission’s final report on 29th March 1919 suggested that those responsible for being; “In violation of the elementary laws of humanity”, should face criminal prosecution

Asquith’s pledge in 1916 that there would be liberty for the Armenians, along with Balfour’s declaration that Armenia would be liberated, and Lloyd George’s statement that “Armenia would never be returned to the tyranny of the Turk”, all eventually proved to be hollow statements. In the face of the Russian revolution, it would appear that the British Government would find it preferable that the Armenians remained at great peril under Turkish control, than be absorbed into a Communist bloc.

Meanwhile, Point Twelve of Wilson’s famous Fourteen points at the Treaty of Versailles focused on the question of territory suggesting:

"The Turkish portion of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities, which are now under Turkish rule, should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolute, unmolested opportunity of autonomous development."

These were similar assurances to those given to the Armenians at the Congress of Berlin in 1878, where Great Britain, France, and Russia had sponsored the arrangement and accepted responsibility for its augmentation, the first of many promises broken.

That the allies were neglectful is borne out by the eventual murder of the nation they had promised to protect.

The term from point twelve, ‘autonomous development’, is extremely vague, and promised little. It certainly did not promise an independent sovereign state and Armenians were right to be wary of it.

If one looks at the commentary on the Fourteen Points as drawn up by Frank Cobb and Walter Lippmann during the armistice and cabled to President Wilson for his approval, we find more questions than answers with regards Point Twelve:

"Anatolia should be reserved for the Turks... Armenia must be given a port on the Mediterranean and a protecting power established; France may claim it, but the Armenians would prefer Great Britain."

The Armenian desire to be protected by Great Britain can arguably be founded in the strong support given to them by former Prime Minister Gladstone during the massacres of 1894-96, and to British politicians strongly worded comments in support of the Armenians.

Arthur James Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary had accused Turkey of starting the massacre of the Armenians;

“ Without excuse, and (that the war) was conducted without mercy, (and) was accompanied by massacres whose calculated atrocity equals or exceeds anything in recorded history...”

However, Lord Bryce had perhaps come to understand that these statements were not going to be backed up with action and he had already begun to fear the worst, suggesting that he could see the whole idea of a free and independent Armenia being dropped.

On March 16th 1919, Colonel Stephen Bosnal who had the ear of all of the major signatories of the Treaty of Versailles wrote in his diary;

“I hate the whole wretched business, and from now on I shall decline to urge the Armenians to cherish hopes which I fear will never be realised”.

However, the Treaty of Sevres initially suggested that the Armenians cherished hopes might just be realised, but it also handed responsibility over to the American government to resolve these issues.

British involvement had become minimal over Armenia, and Oliver Baldwin, the Prime Minister’s son, claimed that the boldness of Ataturk’s burgeoning aspirations and confidence in fighting for independence, a month after the treaty of Sevres was proposed, was founded in Britain’s weakness in her dealings with Turkey.

Treaty of Sevres

The Treaty of Sevres contained articles that gave the Armenians a real hope that their losses might be compensated for, both in terms of justice and territory.

Articles 226 – 230 were inserted into the 1920 Peace Treaty of Sevres, which requested the surrender of those responsible for the Armenian Genocide. Therefore the Treaty provided a legal basis for the Allies’ prosecution of those responsible for the crime.

However, the first setback for justice occurred when the term “crimes against humanity” as described in the 1915 allied declaration and posited by Politis, was excluded from both the Versailles and Sevres treaties. It was replaced with a more encompassing but vague definition, that of ‘acts in violation of the laws and customs of war’.

The second setback for justice occurred when President Wilson proposed to exclude from consideration an international tribunal for the trial of enemy war criminals. Gary Bass claims that liberal states are usually only concerned with war crimes when it is their own citizens who have been the victims, and that after the First World War, Woodrow Wilson was uninterested in addressing the atrocities in Belgium, northern France, and Armenia.

Meanwhile, the British were trying to bring the perpetrators to justice. British High Commissioner Admiral Calthorpe told the Turkish Foreign Minister that his Government was intent on inflicting proper punishment on Those responsible for the Armenian massacres”.

However, on the night of 1st November 1918, several of the top figures in the CUP had escaped from Istanbul on a German destroyer, whilst debate regarding legal evidence, penal codes and appropriate jurisdiction ensued. Eventually it was decided that the Allies would hold trials that would actually replace the Internal Ottoman Military Tribunal that was already under way. This was largely because it was felt that the Turkish authorities were too incompetent to deal with their own offenders. In fact, the Turkish Military Tribunal was far more efficient in it’s sentencing than the Allies would prove to be. The lack of support from above for people like Calthorpe, meant that any attempts at prosecution were doomed to fail.

The Turkish Military Tribunal

From a historical perspective, if not a judicial one, the Tribunal is important evidence in the face of the constant denial by the current Turkish State.

The Central Committee of the Ottoman Government was identified as the perpetrator group and the State sponsors of the genocide. In its indictment, the Tribunal accused the perpetrators of;

“The organisation and execution of the Armenian deportation, (which) was directed and ensued through oral and secret instructions and orders”.

It also accused the Government of taking advantage of the cover of total war, so that they might eradicate the Armenians. Indeed, German eyewitness testimony of the Genocide explicitly refers to the fact that the focus on the murder of Armenians was detrimental to the war effort.

The Indictment also states that the massacre of the Armenians;

“Was not due to a particular incident, nor was it limited to a particular locality. It was organised by a unanimously acting central body….”.

The Turkish Military Tribunal therefore, summarised what would now be viewed as a classic case of genocide; a systematic, far-reaching, and centrally organised attempt at mass murder.

The first successful prosecution and punishment was commented upon in the New York Times on Monday April 14th 1919.

“Kemal Bey, Governor of Diarbekir, has been publicly hanged in Bayazid Square in Stamboul… The prosecutor declared that it was necessary to punish the authors of the massacres, which had filled the whole world with a feeling of horror”.

Meanwhile, the following sentences were passed on the triumvirate seen as the main perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide. Talaat, Enver and Djemal, along with Dr Nazim were sentenced to death, but given their escape in November, the sentence was passed in absentia.

The Malta Trials

The Malta Trials faced difficulty from their inception. The rise of Kemalism was the first of a number of key factors in the disintegration of the trials. Within a year of defeat by the Allies, there was a renewed confidence in Turkey, and a belligerence in the face of allied interference in what were seen as largely internal affairs. The British, for instance, were having difficulty in extracting from the Turkish authorities, key pieces of evidence. Mr. W.S. Edmonds, Under Secretary in the Eastern Department of the Foreign Office, feared that some documents might be “smuggled away”.

There was also a sense that the united front that issued the warning to the perpetrators of the genocide in May 1915 was falling apart. Italy and France began to support the rise of Kemalism, and in doing so helped hinder British efforts to restore the authority of the Sultan. This gave Turkish authorities the confidence to refuse to comply with allied requests; more specifically in this case, the request for the hand-over of prominent individuals suspected of complicity in the genocide. Arnold Toynbee, the historian responsible for compiling the British Blue Book reports, was a British delegate at the Paris Peace Conference, and he described the political relations and manoeuvrings by Governments as “honour among thieves”.

Meanwhile, whilst the Turkish Military Tribunal continued, the British had carried out a surprise raid, and seized most of those suspected of involvement in the planning and execution of the Armenian Genocide. They were transferred to Malta to await international justice. The total number of prisoners held on Malta was one hundred and eighteen.

There were other obstructions to judicial proceedings, and Sir Harry Lamb, the political-legal officer of the British High Commission at Istanbul explained them thus;

“Unless there is whole hearted co-operation and will to act among the Allies, the trials will fall to the ground and the direct and indirect massacres of about one million Christians will get off unscathed. Rather than this should happen, it were better if the Allies had never made their declarations in the matter and had never followed up their declarations by the arrests and deportations that have been made”.

By late 1920, the British seemed exasperated in their efforts to collect the necessary evidence required for the prosecution. British judge Lindsey Smith suggested that it would be “idle to expect to get” the considerable amount of incriminating evidence collected by the Turkish Government.

Fearing the harm an abortive trial might have, he therefore recommended the abandonment of plans to prosecute the Malta prisoners.

Winston Churchill, the Secretary of State for War, proposed to the Cabinet on July 19th, 1920, the release of Turkish prisoners at Malta “at the first convenient opportunity”.

Now all that was left was for the British to seek a deal with the Kemalists that despite public pressure, they had delayed. They sought a prisoner exchange with Kemal, with the latter holding out for, and getting, an ‘all-for-all’ exchange as detailed in the Treaty of Sevres.

Foreign Minister Curzon retrospectively believed he made a mistake in pushing for this exchange, suggesting that he was under pressure to do so. The collapse of the Malta trials meant that there was no full stop to the horrific sentence that was the Armenian Genocide. The lack of international affirmation that the crime took place left a gap, both judicial and historical. Meanwhile the territorial issue showed much more promise for Armenia.

Wilsonian Armenia

Wilsonian Armenia is a term used for the borders drawn by Woodrow Wilson at the Treaty of Sèvres. It incorporated Erzurum, Bitlis, and Van Provinces, which were parts of the region of Western Armenia. This region was extended to the north, up to the west of Trabzon Province to provide Armenia an outlet to the Black Sea with the port of Trabzon.

In August 1919, President Woodrow Wilson sent a fact-finding mission to the Middle East, headed by General Harbord, to investigate the feasibility of the Balfour Declaration, which supported the creation of a Jewish state in the Palestine lands taken from the Ottoman Empire during the war. The King-Crane Commission also investigated the viability of an Armenian state, and the possibility of a US mandate. The Commission came to the conclusion that there should be one. Arguments supporting the idea of an independent Armenian State sound remarkably similar to that put forward for an independent Israeli State following World War II. However, there the similarity ends, given that today Armenia is a victim of genocide with someone else occupying her lands, whilst Israel is a victim State of genocide occupying territories belonging to the Palestinians, which perhaps further exemplifies the catastrophic effect of British policy in the Middle and Near East. General Harbord was also to report on Turkish-Armenian relations in the wake of the Armenian Genocide. Harbord’s report stated that “the temptation to reprisals for past wrongs” would make it extremely difficult to maintain peace in the region.

The King-Crane Commission meanwhile noted that following the genocide, the Armenians could not trust the Ottoman Empire to respect their rights anymore. They therefore recommended that Armenian independence should be respected by the international community and insured by the Allies.

It was felt that the Armenians had a right to self-government in the region.

Woodrow Wilson’s conclusion on the various commissioned reports was to agree to transfer “Wilsonian Armenia” to the Armenians in the Treaty of Sèvres.

However, David Lloyd George could already anticipate problems. On April 29, 1920, speaking in the House of Commons, he said:

“... As for Armenia, it proved to be a problem of extreme difficulty. The difficulty – and hardly need to say it to the friends of Armenia – is connected with the circumstance that there is no Armenian population in some of the vast areas which we wanted to hand over to Armenia and for getting which Armenia has historical reasons. But if they are transferred to Armenia, who will realise our decisions?”

However, there were other reasons for the abandonment of Armenia too.

Lloyd George later confessed, “Oil outweighed the blood of Armenians.” Similarly, the aforementioned Oliver Baldwin, suggested that Armenia would not have been deserted had there been oil wells there.

The Treaty of Sèvres was rejected by the Turkish national movement under the leadership of Ataturk who had split with the monarchy creating a rival Ankara government, which eventually emerged as the legitimate representative for the Turkish nation.

During what is known as the Turkish War of Independence, the Turkish nationalists successfully resisted and assured the security of what they defined as their homeland with the Treaty of Alexandropol and the Treaty of Kars reversing aspects of the Treaty of Sevres by cementing the eastern borders.

As a result of this, and with nations keen to foster ties with the emerging Turkish State, the former Allies of World War I had to return back to the negotiating table with the Turks. The result was the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, which replaced the Treaty of Sèvres and recovered important amounts of land in Anatolia for the Turks.

The Treaty of Lausanne

The Treaty of Lausanne settled the Anatolian part of the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire by annulment of the Treaty of Sevres, and without mentioning Armenia once.

Winston Churchill who had urged the Armenian population to rebel during the Gallipoli landings remarked:

“In the Lausanne Treaty, which established a new peace between the allies and Turkey, history will search in vain for the name Armenia.”

The road to the Treaty of Lausanne and the betrayal of Armenia, had British duplicity written all over it from the very beginning.

Broken promises, greed, and realpolitik meant that Armenia lost its people and its land. Meanwhile, Britain also lost the opportunity to move into a new era of world politics with integrity and moral fortitude. It is safe to say that the manner in which the Armenians were dealt with by the British Government during that period was typical of British Foreign Policy then, and remains so now. A helping hand proffered to victims of State violence is dependent on the British Government’s strategic and economic interests, and that is the base line. The current Government promised an ethical foreign policy with Robin Cook stating that Britain had;

“ a foreign policy that stands up for democracy, human rights, accountability and openness”

And yet, within months, the Foreign Office was supporting the flooding of ancient, historical Kurdish villages in Turkey, to make way for the Ilisu Dam.

In more recent times this has been exemplified by our intervention in Iraq, whilst prevaricating over Darfur. Modern politicians have been briefed on how to respond to this issue and so we frequently get MP’s suggesting that the British Government has yet to find conclusive evidence that what took place was genocide, and then suggest that a free and open historical debate take place. The British Blue Book is evidence. There have been historical debates amongst respected academics; those who are not in the pay of the Turkish State, such as Heath Lowry, or those who feel the need to ‘play down’ the Armenian genocide in order to further promote the uniqueness of the Holocaust for Israel.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007


He was the US ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in 1915, during the
troubles with the Armenians.

He witnessed how the Turks, desperately hoping to stop further losses, and even regain some of their territory and prior prestige, finally succumbed to German influence and were dragged to collapse.

The ambassador's name was Henry Morgenthau.

He was a German Jew, who arrived in New York as an immigrant when he was 10. He was successful in the new country, and through his eventual rise in prominence, he gained President Woodrow Wilson's trust and respect. This ability to gain the confidence of others was characteristic of Ambassador Morgenthau, and greatly contributed to his experience as an ambassador in Turkey.

Despite his ties with Turkish leaders, though, his experiences, recorded first in his diary and then in his book, "Ambassador Morgenthau's Story," regarding the political environment and the tense situation with Armenia, led him to change his opinion of his Young Turk associates.

The ambassador's book became a key source for those who acknowledge an Armenian "genocide," as it indicated that the government, hiding behind World War I, had planned and carried out an elimination of the Armenian minority. Ambassador Morgenthau's book was published in Turkish for the first time in 2005 by Belge Publishing Co. Turkish readers can now judge his words for themselves.

Many things have been written about the book from different points of view. Professor H. Lowry in his book "The Story Behind Ambassador Morgenthau's Story" (1990), stated that some of the explanations and arguments in the ambassador's book were inconsistent with the official reports and telegrams that the ambassador sent to the US secretary of state, and inconsistent with entries in the diary that he wrote during the 26 months he spent in Turkey. Lowry also claimed that US journalist Burton J. Hendrick wrote the book.

Approximately half Ambassador Morgenthau's book focuses on the relationships the ambassador developed during his time in Ýstanbul.

This includes his record of how the Ittihat Terakki government became engaged with that of the Germans as, at that time, each believed that their own imperialist aims would be supported by joining forces with the other. The other half of the book contains details of events around the time of the Armenian controversy that Ambassador Morgenthau personally witnessed or that were reported to him from his consuls, Christian missionaries and others in different parts of Turkey.

We talked with Dr. Pamela Steiner, great grandchild of Ambassador Morgenthau, about the memoirs and her approach regarding the current Turkish/Armenian relationship, at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative of Harvard University, where she is a senior fellow.

Can you please tell us about your family roots?

My mother's parents were Maurice Wertheim and Alma Morgenthau. Alma was one of Ambassador Morgenthau's three daughters and the sister of Henry Morgenthau, Jr., who became secretary of the treasury under President Franklin Roosevelt. Alma's (first) husband, Maurice Wertheim, was a banker, art collector, chess player, sportsman and remarkable philanthropist. Alma and Maurice had three daughters. The eldest, Josephine, was my mother. She worked to ban the testing of nuclear weapons and halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons. My father, Ralph Pomerance, a second generation Polish/Lithuanian Jew, was a fine architect.

Can you tell us about yourself? What do you do at Harvard?

As a senior fellow at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, I direct the fledgling project, "Inter-Communal Violence and Reconciliation."

Primarily my work aims to contribute to improving the relationship between the Turkish and Armenian societies. My background includes prior work on the relationships between Germans and Jews, and Israelis and Palestinians. I have a psychotherapy practice, which is private, not connected to Harvard -- I specialize in seeing people with psychological trauma.

How are you carrying out this work with Turks and Armenians?

My colleagues and I -- people rarely do this work alone -- invite individuals who are influential members of both Turkish and Armenian civil societies to participate in confidential dialogue workshops. We structure the workshops to enable participants to learn about each other's perspectives and hear about each other's experiences regarding the relationship of the two communities. After the workshops are over, participants may talk publicly about what they learned, but they have agreed not to reveal the identities of the other participants even then. But, sometimes, at the end of a workshop, participants decide to collaborate on a joint statement or some other project.

Facilitators for these dialogue workshops, such as myself, do not state historical facts or offer opinions about facts. The job of facilitators is to enable participants to talk productively about their communities' history of hurts and losses and their communities' basic needs, fears,
concerns and hopes in relation to the community with which they are in conflict. The next step in the workshop is for participants to see if they can contrive a solution that addresses the basic needs, fears, concerns and hopes of both communities.

The participants, not the facilitators, do state the facts, and the characterizations and meaning of those facts, as they know and understand them. I have an educated lay person's opinion about the issues in the Turkish/Armenian relationship, but it is unimportant in this context. What does matter very much is that, while facilitating, I am even-handed and am perceived by participants to be so.

I am well aware, of course, that the use of "genocide" in the context of the Armenian/Turkish relationship has an enormous but different meaning to each community and different meanings to different sub-groups within each community. I might ask participants in a workshop to discuss the importance of these different meanings with each other.

But your great-grand father did not use the term 'genocide' in his book, right?

Yes, that's true. The word "genocide" did not exist when my great grandfather wrote his book. He wrote some now famous descriptions of what he witnessed and learned. Here are two examples from his book that we are discussing, "Ambassador Morgenthau's Story":

"Talaat's attitude toward the Armenians was summed up in the proud boast which he made to his friends: 'I have accomplished more toward solving the Armenian problem in three months than Abdul Hamid accomplished in thirty years!'" (p. 234)

"From him (Dr. Lepsius, a German missionary) Enver scarcely concealed the official purpose. Dr. Lepsius was simply staggered by his frankness, for Enver told him in so many words that they at last had an opportunity to rid themselves of the Armenians and that they proposed to use it." (p. 235).

What is your impression about the book generally?

It's such an extraordinary close up history about a fascinating period. It's the sum of the many aspects of the book that I find so remarkable. He knew everybody and was an acute observer. There's a tremendous amount of detail about his relations with the diplomatic community and the Young Turks. He did not go to Ýstanbul aiming to do something in particular for the Turks or Armenians over and above what an ambassador does. He did not arrive with a personal interest in the Armenians. He got along very well with the Turks and talks about what he admired in them. He stresses how sincere the Young Turks were initially in their aim to put Turkey on a democratic path.

He notes how they failed at this and how this failure partly led these leaders to revert to what he characterized as much more "primitive" governance.

As one of the top people, he bore witness to the fate of the Armenians, and protested about it widely. It was also emotionally painful for both him and his wife to witness. He records his efforts to stop the killings of Armenians and how his failure led him to leave Ýstanbul.

Yet, at the same time, he conveyed a deep understanding of the Turks' struggles. He understood how the Turkish leaders felt humiliated by their losses of territory. He saw and was horrified by the suffering of ordinary Turks during this period, as a result of their leaders'
attempts to regain by going to war that lost territory and prestige. He reported in detail all he learned about how the Germans manipulated and drew the Turks into the war. However, I understand that contemporary historians consider that he overrated the influence of the Germans, though I believe that most agree that German influence was great.

So why then does nobody mention the responsibility Germany bears for the incidents that took place in 1915?

This is a very important question, as is the question of responsibilitynmore generally, though the word would need to be defined first. It would be interesting to discuss this question with historians, which of course I am not, but also with group psychologists, which I am. But it isn't true that no one mentions German responsibility if "responsibility" is understood as Germany's exercising influence on and acting in complicity with the commitment of certain acts. For example, Taner Akcam's "A Shameful Act" and Donald Bloxham's "The Great Game of Genocide" both discuss Germany's role. And one of my great grandfather's book's chapters is actually entitled "Germany forces Turkey into War." Whatever German responsibility was, though, does not ease the responsibilities of the Ittihat Terakki Party.

It has been claimed that the book was not written by your great grand-grandfather, but by Burton J. Hendrick, the famous journalist of the time. Is that real?

I don't know that. But I know that Hendrick stayed at my grandfather's house and they worked together on the book. My grandfather had a diary. In the book he mentions when he is quoting from the diary. My grandfather was not a trained writer. So it is very natural to get some professional support, a ghost writer. But you very easily notice his "voice" while reading the book.

Is Armenian identity constructed on hostility towards Turks? Is this something healthy?

Some Armenians feel hostile to Turks as a whole. Some Armenians feel hostile not only to the Turks of that time, but also to Turks today who do not know and do not acknowledge what the Turks did to the Armenians in those years. But not all Armenians today feel the same about all Turks, although for perhaps all Armenians the memories of the past are very painful. Their pain increases when people minimize those hurts.

So what do you think should be done?

I think 1915-23 were particularly terrible years and there has been an important gap between the two sets of communities since then. My understanding is that most members of these two sets of communities don't now know each other. They need to know each other. What happened in 1915-1923 should be discussed today, and they all should gain
greater understanding of each other.

What else?

We have already been talking about conflict resolution andreconciliation processes. One element in the process is the creation of public knowledge of what happened. The past must be dealt with.

This includes, of course, the historical facts and the different narratives incorporating those facts, the different meanings of those facts to the different communities. There must be greater such knowledge and understanding of each other.

A second element is public acknowledgment of those facts and perspectives. Not only do both communities need to tell what happened, and how they understand it, but each party must acknowledge the other's narrative - assuming they believe that the other is being sincere. Such a process can lead to deep understanding and empathy, and eventually to solutions.

I believe that the achievement of these two elements, truth and acknowledgment ... would make an enormous, positive difference in the Armenian/Turkish relationship.

Turkey finally hears its past


''AMBASSADOR Morgenthau's Story," my grandfather's account of the killings of Armenians in Turkey in 1915, was published just before World War I ended in November 1918. A personal chronicle of his service as the US ambassador to Ottoman Turkey for 26 months, the book was published last month for the first time in Turkish, a milestone in informing the Turkish people of what happened in their country more than 90 years ago.

The term genocide had not yet been invented when my grandfather wrote his book. Thus, Morgenthau refers to ''the destruction of the Armenian race" as ''the murder of a nation." It was Henry Morgenthau's lonely voice that alerted the world to the premeditated atrocities of the Young Turk leaders and the complicity of their German allies.

Why Morgenthau chose to speak out on behalf of the Armenians is a more complex question than how he did so. Almost from the time he arrived in New York as a 10-year-old German Jewish immigrant, he envisioned public service as his ultimate calling. When the opportunity arose, he attached himself to Woodrow Wilson's rising star and was appointed US ambassador to Turkey.

At the end of 1914, Morgenthau noted a pattern: Palestinian Jews were conscripted into the Turkish army, then promptly disarmed and placed in labor battalions. This was a tactic the Turks used against Greeks and other minorities, and, most ominously, against the Armenians.

Fearing reprisals against Jews in Turkish territories, Morgenthau warned international Zionist leaders to contain their indignation. Then he took it upon himself to call on the US Navy for help. In January 1915, the USS Tennessee was ordered to Alexandria, Egypt, ostensibly to protect US citizens. In fact, it made possible the evacuation of impoverished Jewish refugees, including David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, who became respectively Israel's first prime minister and second president.

Morgenthau was never able to carry out a rescue of the Armenians with the effectiveness he achieved in saving Jews, though certainly not for want of trying. There were fundamental differences between the Armenian and Jewish situations. The Armenians were a minority located within the borders of Ottoman Turkey and Czarist Russia. The Jews, on the other hand, were widely dispersed throughout Eastern and Western Europe and the United States, and to a much lesser extent in the Near East, including the Holy Land. In Western Europe and the United States, Jews had risen to positions of power and had learned how to network internationally. The diaspora Armenians had not yet achieved such status and so could not mobilize support for their persecuted kinsmen.

When Morgenthau appealed to Enver Pasha, the Turkish minister of war, to permit US missionaries to feed starving Armenians, the response was coldly cynical. ''We don't want the Americans to feed the Armenians. . . . That is one of the worst things that could happen to them. . . . It is their belief that they have friends in other countries which leads them to oppose the government and so bring down upon them all their miseries." The Turkish minister of the interior, Talaat Pasha, was equally callous: ''The hatred between the Turks and the Armenians is now so intense that we have got to finish them. If we don't, they will plan their revenge."

The memoirs of my grandfather factually chronicle an important period of history. Yet, 91 years later, the Turkish state insists the genocide of the Armenians did not happen. Why does Turkey protect the murderers of the past? That is a question that needs to be asked over and over again until the truth is acknowledged. As Turkey seeks membership in the European Union, it is being challenged to open up its society and adopt free speech.

But its penal code has resulted in several Turkish writers being brought before their own courts for speaking out about the Armenian genocide. Surely a modern country like Turkey needs to treat its citizens with more respect. Free speech cannot be denied, especially in a country seeking to join the EU. Whatever may have motivated Turkish officials to deny the genocide for more than 90 years, there now appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel. The US government, which had knuckled under in support of the Turkish policy of denial, is now urging all parties to accept the realities of history.

At this critical moment, the publication of the Turkish edition of ''Ambassador Morgenthau's Story" is an important step for the citizens of Turkey. It is their right to know their own history, good and bad, without interference from the state. A crime denied is a crime repeated. Great nations in history have acknowledged the misdeeds of their earlier governments. It is time for Turkey to join the ranks of those great nations.

Henry Morgenthau III, who lives in Cambridge, is the author of a family history, ''Mostly Morgenthaus."


Resource : Zaman

We’ve all experienced it, but only recently did I learn that there is a special word for it in Turkish. “Hanutçuluk” refers to that special pestering that traders mete out to tourists wandering past their shops -- the totally resistible invitation to buy a carpet, see a leather jacket or eat shish kebab that often follows in the wake of an innocuous request to know the time or find out where you are from. Hanutçus are touts who drag customers into shops in exchange for a commission.

The practice is a scourge, according to the sub-provincial governor of Bodrum, one of
Turkey’s busiest tourist centers. “In high season, tourists can’t even walk the streets,” said the official, Abdullah Kalkan, in front of an audience of the town’s local businesspeople last March. It’s actually a criminal offense but one which, he confessed, the law is powerless to suppress despite having issued 50,000 euros worth of fines and ordering 30 prime offenders to close shop altogether. Quoted in “Kolayidare” a Web zine for Turkish bureaucrats, he calls hanutçuluk “the enemy of tourism.”

Alas, the Bodrum sub-provincial governor’s office has itself discovered ways of discouraging tourism or, at the very least, sending visitors away not just with sunburn but a sour taste in their mouths. Hanging in Bodrum airport, with official endorsement of the sub-provincial governor’s office, are posters warning departing tourists not of touts but the false claims of the Armenian lobby. One poster consists of an old black and white photo of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, seated with his wife’s dogs at his feet. Beside it is a photo that has been doctored. The dog has been replaced with the corpse of an emaciated Armenian child -- with the legend “The Face of Denial.”

This bizarre bit of digital editing, according to the poster, is the work of some committee in
California in a pamphlet advertising a rally to call for the recognition of the fate of the Ottoman Armenian population as genocide. That these people were forced to resort to so crude a fiction to make their case is proof that the genocide is itself a falsehood, the poster says.

You can imagine Mr. and Mrs. Nuclear Tourist Family wandering through Bodrum airport with their little ones clutching plastic buckets and spades. Whereas they might have approached the ticket counter with the regret and nostalgia of a holiday coming to an end, one look at the dead baby will send them running for their plane. In another terminal there is yet a second poster of an Armenian claim -- a reproduction of a painting of a pile of skulls which proves to be from the Franco-Prussian War of 1871 and not 1915. As an advertisement for
Turkey it is on a level with the ads that some bright minister commissioned after a PKK bombing to restore confidence in the country’s tourism. These ran (and I paraphrase) “Come to Turkey and you probably won’t die.” “We didn’t cut these heads off, someone else did” is just not good advertising copy.

At the very least the posters are a false syllogism that even the most sunstroke-addled tourist will recognize. “Some Armenians in
California are guilty of facile propaganda” = “Anything any Armenian says is propaganda” = “The disappearance of the Armenians of Anatolia is an illusion created by Photoshop.” Yet the posters contain an even more reckless assumption. “There are those in the Armenian diaspora who would make their case with disrespect for the founder of the Turkish republic” = “We, as public servants in Turkey funded at the taxpayers’ expense, should shout back in an even more hysterical tone.”

The history of the Armenian community at the end of the
Ottoman Empire is too important an issue to be conducted through a deliberately shocking poster campaign. By all means the administrator of a region that attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists should clear the streets of obnoxious touts. He should not be out there trying to drag those same hapless tourists into an historical polemic. The posters should come down.


Genocide Recognition

Turkey's multi-million dollar lobbyist Bob Livingston posted an eight minute video on the Capitol Hill Broadcasting Network website. Livingston's anti-genocide diatribe is an effort to block Congressional adoption of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106/ S.Res.106), according to the Armenian National Committee of America.

In response to the Livingston attack, Armenian Genocide Resolution
lead advocates, Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA), George Radanovich
(R-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) cosigned a
July 18th letter to Congressional colleagues discrediting Livingston's
denialist claims. The Congressional letter noted that: "For the past
seven years Mr. Livingston has been a paid lobbyist for Turkey, which
has spent millions of dollars denying what the world knows to be true -
that in the first decades of the last century a horrible genocide was
committed against the Armenian people. The factual evidence supporting
the Armenian Genocide is vast, and no effort to deny these facts -
no matter the source of the denial - will ever change history."

The letter went on to urge House members to join over 220 of their
colleagues in cosponsoring H.Res.106.

Earlier this week, The New Republic, a major national magazine, ran a
feature-length, stinging expose on the efforts of Turkish government
lobbyists to defeat the Armenian Genocide Resolution. The article,
written by Michael Crowley, provides a behind the scenes glimpse
into the multi-million dollar genocide denial industry, spotlighting
former House Minority leader Dick Gephardt and Bob Livingston as the
lead beneficiaries of Turkey's anti-genocide campaign.

Monday, 23 July 2007

A Darker Side to the Genocide Debate

I am publishing the following piece with some reluctance because I cannot condone the actions of any of the parties involved. If someone who operates a Web site wishes to remain anonymous, that is their choice in my view and no-one should try to compromise their anonymity. The site will be judged on its merits and different people will have different opinions on that score. On the other hand, personal threats and villification are entirely unjustified under any circumstances.

For what it is worth, I think this whole issue just highlights how some rather silly people, who should know better, can debase a serious debate and by so doing undermine its importance.

Now, let's bring on the dancing girls and boys... :-)

Shoot the Messenger

Taner Akçam

July 16, 2007

In May 2007, I revealed the identity of Murad “Holdwater” Gümen, the secretive Webmaster of Tall Armenian Tale, an extensive and influential site devoted to “the other side of the falsified Genocide” and the defamation of genocide scholars, myself included. Mr. Gümen has been a leading voice in an ongoing campaign to denounce me as a traitor to Turkey and as a terrorist who ought to be of interest to American authorities.

For the last three years, disinformation about me from Tall Armenian Tale has been disseminated all over the Internet, eventually reaching the open-source encyclopedia, Wikipedia. This campaign, which intensified after the November 2006 publication of my book, A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility, culminated in my detention by Canadian and American border authorities last February, on suspicion of terrorism. As evidence, they showed me my vandalized Wikipedia biography.

Just one month before this incident, the assassination of Istanbul-based journalist Hrant Dink by an ultranationalist gunman had put Turkey’s intellectuals on high alert. We knew that in the months before his death, Mr. Dink had been targeted by an increasingly vicious media campaign intent on portraying him as a traitor. Among other things, Dink was pilloried for revealing the Armenian identity of Sabiha Gökçen, the adopted daughter of Turkey’s founding father, Kemal Ataturk. Leading the pack against Dink was Hürriyet newspaper, one of the most influential publications in Turkey.

In the campaign against me, disinformation from Tall Armenian Tale was copied to YouTube videos describing my “terrorist” activities. I received death threats by email. My lectures and book tour were disrupted, and poison-pen letters were sent to the hosting universities. Following my lecture on November 1, 2006, at City University of New York, I was physically assaulted.

My detention was the last straw. I challenged Mr. Gümen to stand up in public.

The unmasking of an individual who had been running a campaign of slander against me was presented to readers of Hürriyet as a criminal or unethical act. I was said to have endangered Mr. Gümen’s life.

“Murad Gümen, who has been defending Turkey for over 30 years under the assumed name ‘Holdwater,’ had his identity unmasked by Taner Akçam, supporter of the claim of a so-called genocide…. Upon publication of his identity, Gümen became a target and has been the subject of a hate campaign.”—“Secret Lobbyist Deciphered,” Hürriyet, June 21, 2007.

“Murad Gümen, whose identity was unmasked by Taner Akçam, has been the target of a flood of insults sent by Armenians via the Internet. Gümen, who’s been accused of racism, has had his photograph published on the Web…. [Taner Akçam]’s disappeared. It has not been possible to reach Taner Akçam…. Murad Gümen is a successful illustrator and film producer who lives in America.”—“Immediate Target,” Hürriyet, June 22, 2007.

“Taner Akçam fled Turkey years ago. He lives overseas, in the United States at this point, and gets fed by the Armenian lobby. He vomits hate towards our country in all of his books and his speeches. Recently he unmasked the Web site that was maintained by Murad Gümen, who has been defending the Turkish position on Armenian issues in the United States, and he revealed the latter’s identity which had been kept secret until now. This individual named Taner Akçam who has spent his life living outside of the country, writing articles and giving speeches against Turkey… [T]his individual… escaped overseas, works in opposition to Turkey, betrayed his country, and serves the Armenian lobby by promoting the position that ‘there was an Armenian genocide’ all over the world!” — Emin Çolasan, “Bravo Atilla Koç! This is How You Introduce Turkey!”, Hürriyet, June 23, 2007.

Hürriyet’s reportage concerns me deeply, for three reasons:

First, it bears an uncanny resemblance to the lynching mentality that was created against Dink. Having revealed the identity of a secret slanderer, I am now being denounced as a traitor who “vomits hate towards our country.”

My second cause for concern has to do with an anonymous email that I received on June 11, 2007: “Today we have started fighting you and those creatures you call your friends, within the boundaries of the law. But if we don’t get the result we’re looking for, we’ll start trying other alternative ways. It would be better for world peace and truth if sewer germs like you were taken off the planet… tomorrow is going to be much more difficult for you. Pray that the devil takes you away soon because otherwise you’ll be living a hell on earth… you think you’ve discovered who “Holdwater” is ... you have gotten it all wrong. Right now the world is full of millions of Holdwaters... One day you and your wild Armenian blood brothers will drown in this sea of Holdwaters… The truth hurts… it really does. One day you are going to feel the pain so badly that when you read these lines, you’ll remember how you were.” The similarity in character between the campaign against me by Hürriyet and the language used in this threatening email is frightening.

The writer of that letter concludes, “Who am I? You’re going to find out, Taner, you’re going to find out.” Was it a coincidence that the Hürriyet campaign began just 10 days later?

Third, Hürriyet cold-bloodedly disregarded the most basic principles of journalism. Their headline on the second day of coverage proclaimed that I had “disappeared.” Readers were given the impression that I had gone into hiding the day after Hürriyet reported my unmasking of Murad “Holdwater” Gümen.

The fact is that my office address, telephone numbers, and email address are all available online. The University of Minnesota, College of Liberal Arts, the Department of History, and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies have full-time staff. There is no record of a call, not one single email, from Hürriyet. They never bothered to contact me. They didn’t check their facts or attempt to interview me. And when I demanded a correction, the editor-in-chief ignored my letter.

Thus, in Dink’s case and also in mine, one of the most influential and widely circulated national newspapers does not hesitate to transform itself into a weapon. Once again, intellectuals and activists who dare to question the government’s “official history” are being put on notice. This shameful campaign not only endangers my life and the lives of my colleagues, my family and friends; ironically enough, the very notion of free expression is being undermined by the very institution that depends on it most: the public press.

And what is the point, after all? I published a scholarly study that deviated from the official position of the Turkish State. One should ask the Turkish authorities whether they truly believe that shooting the messenger will prove that their position on 1915 is the correct one.

Common Threads in Some Major Religions are Illustrated in a British Library Exhibition and Gallery Talk

Armenian Institute


Gallery Talk by the Rev Dr Nerses V Nersessian

Saturday, 28 July 2007 at 3:00 pm
British Library, 96 Euston Road, London N1
(Tube: King’s Cross/ St Pancras, Euston & Euston Square)

Access to the Gallery is by timed tickets. Places are limited for this guided tour. Please book your tickets early to avoid disappointment.

Illustration: Page from the Four Gospels in Armenian (AD 1166) written by Simeon.
British Library Add. 19727, f240. Copyright ©The British Library Board.

Sacred: Discover what we share brings together Christian, Islamic and Jewish religious texts and related ritual pieces in an astonishingly beautiful exhibition. In a unique and compelling modern context the exhibition presents rare sacred texts from the Library’s collection as well as loan items from other institutions. Mixed media, including videos of ceremonies from the different traditions, expands the ways in which the exhibition demonstrates the links and commonalities between these three traditions. There are several Armenian exhibits including illuminated manuscripts, a prayer scroll and a pastoral staff from New Julfa. Of special interest is the richly illuminated personal Book of Hours (Breviary) of King Levon II of Cilician Armenia (reigned 1269-1289).

The Rev Dr Nerses V Nersessian is the Curator for the Christian Middle East Section of the British Library. After graduating from the Echmiatsin seminary, he studied at King’s College, University of London. He is the author of several monographs and numerous articles on a wide range of topics in Armenian studies with particular emphasis on Armenian Church history and theology and the art of book illumination.

The Armenian Institute is a London-based registered charity dedicated to making Armenian culture and history a living experience, through innovative programmes, educational resources, workshops, exhibits and performances. Its work is supported by friends, patrons and voluntary donations. For more information about the Armenian Institute or to find out about supporting the important work of the Institute, please visit our website at , contact: us at or call 020 7978 9104.

For a witty, learned and dare I say jaundiced (please forgive me Father) view of this Exhibition, you could read Rant No 262 (24th May 2007) entitled, would you believe it, Sacred and Profane in Father Frank's Rants - and remember you read it here first! :-)

Saturday, 21 July 2007


Belge International Publishing House


Ragip Zarakolu spoke at the IAGS Conference and received an award in Bosnia

The chief editor/owner of our publishing house, Mr. Ragip Zarakolu was invited by IAGS (International Association of Genocide Scholars) to talk at the Conference in Sarajevo which was held between 9-14 July. Zarakolu talked about the struggle in Turkey against genocide denialism and on the Armenian-Turkish Dialogue. Zarakolu also received an award from IAGS honoring his work for minority rights and for the acknowledgement of Armenian Genocide. Carla Del Ponte, Prosecutor of International Criminal Tribune; Deborah Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University; Erik Markusen, Research Director of Department for Holocaust and Genocide Studies of Danish Institute for International Studies; Helen Fein, Executive Director of Institute for the Study of Genocide at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York had other IAGS Awards.

Our Editor received TPA’s Award for Freedom of Expression

Mr. Zarakolu received the Turkish Publisher’s Association’s Award for Freedom of Expression for his life-time contributions for freedom of thought. Mr. Zarakolu received the Award in a ceremony at the Taxim Hill Hotel on June 28th. Ms. Elif Safak , a writer who was threatened by ultra nationalist circles during last year, and Mr. Esan Alis, a bookseller who worked for 50 years in the Black Sea town of Bartin, also received awards.

Dora Sakayan’s Trial was postponed until October 3rd

The trial against Mr. Zarakolu, regarding Ms. Dora Sakayan’s book, “An Armenian Doctor in Turkey / Garabed Hatcherian: My Smyrna Ordeal of 1922” was postponed until October 3rd. During the last trial on May 3rd the Court acquitted Mr. Zarakolu, as publisher, but the Court decided to prosecute the translator of the book, Mr. Attila Tuygan, instead of Mr. Zarakolu. This trial began in 2005.

George Jerjian’s Trial was postponed October 3rd

The trial against Mr. Zarakolu, regarding Mr. George Jerjian’s book, “The Truth will set us Free/ Armenians and Turks Reconciled” was postponed until October 3rd. During the last trial on June 26 the Court received a new report about the an academic expert. New report declared, that there is not enough proof for legal prosecution on the base of insulting turkishness and the turkish state. This trial began in 2005.

A New Inquiry was opened regarding our recently published book “What is the Use of The Army?”

The General Staff of the Turkish Army requested that an inquiry be opened regarding Erol Ozkoray’s book, “What is the Use of the Army”. A judicial decision of the prosecutor’s office was reached to cancel the inquiry. The book will not go to trial now.

Robert Fisk: No wonder the bloggers are winning

These gutless papers explain why more people are Googling than turning pages

Published: 21 July 2007

I despise the internet. It's irresponsible and, often, a net of hate. And I don't have time for Blogopops. But here's a tale of two gutless newspapers which explains why more and more people are Googling rather than turning pages.

First the Los Angeles Times. Last year, reporter Mark Arax was assigned a routine story on the 1915 genocide of one and a half million Armenians by the Ottoman Turkish authorities. Arax's report focused on divisions within the local Jewish community over whether to call the genocide a genocide.

It's an old argument. The Turks insist - against all the facts and documents and eyewitness accounts, and against history - that the Armenians were victims of a civil war. The Israeli government and its new, Nobel prize-winning president, Shimon Peres - anxious to keep cosy relations with modern Turkey - have preferred to adopt Istanbul's mendacious version of events. However, many Jews, both inside and outside Israel, have bravely insisted that they do constitute a genocide, indeed the very precursor to the later Nazi Holocaust of six million Jews.

But Arax's genocide report was killed on the orders of managing editor Douglas Frantz because the reporter had a "position on the issue" and "a conflict of interest".

Readers will already have guessed that Arax is an Armenian-American. His sin, it seems, was that way back in 2005, he and five other writers wrote a formal memo to LA Times editors reminding them that the paper's style rules meant that the Armenian genocide was to be called just that - not "alleged genocide". Frantz, however, described the old memo as a "petition" and apparently accused Arax of landing the assignment by dealing with a Washington editor who was also an Armenian.

The story was reassigned to Washington reporter Rich Simon, who concentrated on Turkey's attempt to block Congress from recognising the Armenian slaughter -- and whose story ran under the headline "Genocide Resolution Still Far From Certain".

LA Times executives then went all coy, declining interviews, although Frantz admitted in a blog (of course) that he had "put a hold" on Arax's story because of concerns that the reporter "had expressed personal views about the topic in a public (sic) manner...". Ho ho.

Truth can be dangerous for the LA Times. Even more so, it seems, when the managing editor himself - Frantz, no less - once worked for The New York Times, where he referred to the Armenian massacres as, yes, an "alleged" genocide. Frantz, it turns out, joined the LA Times as its Istanbul correspondent.

Well, Arax has since left the LA Times after a settlement which forestalled a lawsuit against the paper for defamation and discrimination. His employers heaped praise upon his work while Frantz has just left the paper to become Middle East correspondent of the Wall Street Journal based in - of course, you guessed it - Istanbul.

But now let's go north of the border, to the Toronto Globe and Mail, which assigned columnist Jan Wong to investigate a college murder in Montreal last September. Wong is not a greatly loved reporter. A third-generation Canadian, she moved to China during Mao's "cultural revolution" and, in her own words, "snitched on class enemies and did my best to be a good little Maoist."

She later wrote a "Lunch With" series for the Globe in which she acted all sympathetic to interviewee guests to catch them out. "When they relax, that's when their guard is down," she told a college newspaper. "It's a trick, but it's legit." Yuk!

Wong's take on the Montreal Dawson College shooting, however, was more serious. She compared the killer to a half-Algerian Muslim who murdered 14 women in another Montreal college shooting in 1989 and to a Russian immigrant who killed four university colleagues in Montreal in 1992. "In all three cases," she wrote, "the perpetrator was not 'pure laine', the argot for a 'pure' francophone. Elsewhere, to talk of racial purity is repugnant. Not in Quebec."

Painfully true, I'm afraid. Parisians, who speak real French, would never use such an expression - pure laine translates literally as "pure wool" but means "authentic" - but some Montrealers do. Wong, however, had touched a red hot electric wire in "multicultural" Canada. Prime Minister Stephen Harper complained. "Grossly irresponsible," said the man who enthusiastically continued the policy of sending Canadian troops on their suicidal mission to Afghanistan.

The French-Canadian newspaper Le Devoir - can you imagine a British paper selling a single copy if it called itself "Duty"? - published a cartoon of Wong with exaggerated Chinese slanted eyes. Definitely not pure laine for Le Devoir. The hate mail was even more to the point. Some contained excrement.

But then the Globe and Mail ran for cover. Its editor-in-chief, Edward Greenspon, wrote a cowardly column in which he claimed that the offending paragraphs "should have been removed" from her story. "We regret that we allowed these words to get into a reported (sic) article," he sniffled. There had been a breakdown in what he hilariously called "the editorial quality control process".

Now I happen to know a bit about the Globe's "quality control process". Some time ago, I discovered that the paper had reprinted an article of mine from The Independent about the Armenian genocide. But they had tampered with it, altering my word "genocide" to read "tragedy".

The Independent's subscribers promise to make no changes to our reports. But when our syndication folk contacted the Globe, they discovered that the Canadian paper had simply stolen the article. They were made to pay a penalty fee. But as for the censorship of the word "genocide", a female executive explained to The Independent that nothing could be done because the editor responsible had "since left the Globe and Mail".

It's the same old story, isn't it? Censor then whinge, then cut and run. No wonder the bloggers are winning.

Anniversary of the Lausanne Treaty

Armenia Solidarity
British-Armenian All-Party Parliamentary Group
Nor Serount Publications
Armenian Genocide Trust
Anniversary of the Lausanne Treaty
24 hours of lobbying at the Houses of Parliament
on the 24th and 25th of july 2007
1 Launch of "The Armenian Genocide Conference", the Compilation of articles by Scholars and Historians , who took part in the House of Commons Conference on the 24th April 2007. The compilation has been produced by Nor Serount Publications
Speaker: Gregory Topalian
Date and Time of Launch : 24th July 2007, 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm . ( Sponsored by Lord Hylton)
Venue : Committee Rooms A and B , One Abbey Gardens SW1
(Abbey Gardens is situated just opposite the main House of Commons Entrance by the Car Park . They are 3 low buildings of brick and stone next to each other . please ring the bell at number ONE , mention this meeting and you will be let in ) .
2 Lobbying of MPs and presenting them with the publication at all Entrances to the Houses of Parliament . 24th July 2007 . 4.00 pm to 6.15 pm.
3 Lausanne Treaty Anniversary: Meeting in Committee Room 13 , House of Commons SW1 at 6.30 p.m.( Sponsored by Andrew George MP)
( Entrance by St Stephen`s Entrance . Please allow 20 minutes for security checks )
Speakers : Gregory Topalian on "British Responsibility for the Fate of Western Armenia "
Murat Aktas on " Has Turkey broken the terms of the Lausanne Treaty"
4 Lobbying of MPs and presenting them with the publication at all Entrances of the Houses of Parliament . 25th July 2007 . 9.00 am to 2.00 pm.
Your help and presence at all or any of these events is earnestly requested and will be deeply appreciated .
More information from : 07876561398 , 07718982732 , 01494 816 757

Friday, 20 July 2007


Holocaust and genocide denial is the most forceful taboo of our times. Numerous countries now have laws against Holocaust denial and recently an EU directive has made "publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes" an offence punishable by law.

But might the institutionalisation of this taboo have dire consequences - not just for the cranks and charlatans who, often motivated by racism and bigotry, distort historical truth, but also for free, open and academic debate? Some believe that anti-denial legislation will stifle debates about history, as well as political protest and free thinking.

If the establishment of historical truths is left to the decree of politicians, EU bureaucrats and judges, then surely we will end up with legally-defined truths that one questions at one's peril. To permit the expression of views only if they have an official seal of approval looks like an affront to vigorous inquiries into history, and to freedom of expression.

The question of whether genocide denial should be an offence was addressed in a lively debate at the Institute of Contemporary Arts on Monday night. It was chaired by Francesca Klug, professorial research fellow at the London School of Economics' Centre for the Study of Human Rights. Expressing their opposition to the new EU directive were Deborah Lipstadt, Dorot professor of modern Jewish and Holocaust studies at Emory University in Atlanta, and Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at the University of Kent (and a regular contributor to David Cesarani, research professor in history at Royal Holloway College, spoke in favour of the legislation. He argued that there is a causal relation between speech, incitement and deeds.

Mr Cesarani said he is frustrated by "liberals with a small l" who "bury their heads in the sand" when it comes to acknowledging that unfettered freedom of expression can lead to "hate crimes" and historical distortion. He seemed to imply that soft liberals are somehow themselves "in denial" about the dangers of the Enlightenment ideal that was enshrined in the American Bill of Rights - freedom of expression - blinded as they are by their own reliance on the media.

I couldn't help thinking that perhaps Mr Cesarani has buried his own head in the sand. For a defence of free speech with no ifs or buts, regardless of whom it offends, is conspicuous by its absence in the mainstream media and public debates today. If "liberals with a small l" have gone soft on anything, it is on clampdowns on free speech, which they frequently justify as well-intentioned measures to protect vulnerable sections of society.

Today there is a growing tendency to divide society into those who cause offence, those who are easily offended, those who can be easily ignited by offensive words and those who need to police the public in order to minimise such speech. And this tendency has guided the EU directives against genocide denial.

When it comes to genocide denial, as distinct from Holocaust denial, it is in fact perfectly legitimate to question how helpful it is to label certain atrocities as "genocide", "crimes against humanity" or "war crimes", and to scrutinise the facts and figures of such atrocities. For example, some people protested against Nato's bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 and questioned America and Britain's presentation of the Serbs' actions in Kosovo as a genocide. Might such protesters be found guilty of the crime of denial in the future?

In order to establish historical truths, and to strongly counter those who distort it, everything needs to be up for debate.

Ms Lipstadt is one of the best-known warriors against Holocaust denial. She has meticulously exposed the lies, fabrications and bigotry of those who distort the truth about the Nazi atrocities. She was famously the successful defendant in the David Irving v Penguin and Lipstadt libel trial. Yet when, in 2006, Irving was imprisoned in Austria for comments he made in a speech in that country in 1989, she opposed the sentencing. Rather than silencing Holocaust deniers, Lipstadt said last night, legislation outlawing denial actually gives them unwarranted publicity and, ironically, turns them into free speech martyrs.

Furthermore, Holocaust denial laws feed into the very conspiracy theories heralded by the deniers: the despicable view that Jews control the political and judicial system and that they play on their victimhood and "historical guilt" to manipulate the system in their favour.

Ms Lipstadt argued that the only way to stand up to Holocaust deniers is to expose them for the liars they are - and in the process build a stronger case for truth - rather than shutting them up and locking them in a cell. Holocaust and genocide denial laws suggest that those of us who believe that Irving and his ilk are indeed vile charlatans don't have the confidence or the evidence to oppose them. We do,
Lipstadt insisted.

Mr Furedi pointed out that the Holocaust has become a moral absolute for our relativist times; the historical event that every other atrocity, natural disaster or perceived injustice is measured against. The EU laws, he argued, encourage competitive claims-making
to sanctify memory
. So when they were first introduced, Poland, Slovenia and the Baltic states lobbied for the inclusion of a crime of denying, condoning or trivialising atrocities committed in the name of Joseph Stalin in the new law. When France criminalised denial
of the Armenian genocide, Turkey threatened to criminalise denial of the French genocide in Algeria.

And it is not just states, but also various minority groups, environmentalist campaigners, animal rights activists and anti-abortion groups that fall back on terms such as "Holocaust" and "genocide" to give moral force to their causes. The overall effect, Mr Furediargued, is that we lose sight of the historical context of the Holocaust and rather than preserving or honouring its memory, we obscure and denigrate it by turning it into a political prop.

Today, calling someone a "denier" has become a way of shutting down debate. But if we are denied the right to hear all sides of an argument, or to compare and contrast different events, we cannot make a coherent and forceful case for truth. And if we leave history in the hands of the powers-that-be, each of us runs the risk of putting ourselves in the docks - because considering the ever-widening definitions of offensiveness, who is to say that our own opinions
won't one day, offend someone somewhere?